Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spencer Leonard on the Tacit Alliance between Islamist Fascism and the Left

There are deafening echoes of the 1930s all around, Spencer A. Leonard writes here in Platypus, which is a proper saucy group of students, activists, historians and intellectuals whose motto, if you could call it that, is: We declare that the Left is dead.

I would object to Leonard's implication that the NATO-ISAF intervention in Afghanistan constitutes a kind of anti-fascist imperialism, but if I'm wrong in reading him that way it's that he elides the question a bit too gracelessly. Leonard is certainly not wrong, however, when he points out that nowadays, in contrast with the 1930s, "the Left tends to keep company with fascist 'anti-imperialists.' "

He's too cynical for my tastes, at least in his view that the Left is powerless and can do little more than "watch the bullets fly." I'm inclined to think he's actually dead wrong about that. But he's dead right here: "In the here-and-now, it is clear that the political struggle against Islamism in South Asia, as elsewhere, has a military aspect and that any marginally desirable political outcome will have been brought about at least in part by means of the violence of state action. Moreover, as most Leftists would doubtless be loathe to admit, the very prospect of reconstituting Leftist politics in South Asia rides to no small extent on the ability of the U.S. and NATO to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Leonard hits one out of the park when he observes that "anti-imperialism in our time has become a smokescreen that obscures more than it reveals," and he's right again to assert that "the 'War on Terror' is no more horrific to contemplate than is the peace to be made with it."

Thanks to Andony Melathopoulos for bringing this to my attention. In my more low-brow fashion I take a rather different tack than Leonard, on the same subject, which Andony helped me explain, also in Platypus, here.

Meanwhile, I see Raphael Alexander has joined the conversation. I will disagree with Raphael in certain matters, and he will disagree with me, but we are part of the same conversation. We may specifically disagree from time to time on what progress looks like. But we agree it does not look like this:


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